Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/792

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herbivores of humanity, or by destroying in any way I can other carnivores who happen to stand in my way? If my acts are well adjusted to these ends, as Machiavelli says they are, why are they not good? The result will be that survival of the fittest which science proclaims to be the decree of Nature. Is it not difficult to find an answer which will not involve what Dr. Van Buren Denslow derides as theistic altruism?

The motive power to which, at bottom, Mr. Spencer's ethic mainly appeals in urging to moral effort or self-restraint, is the hope of a future social state, which in his, as in other agnostic philosophies, fills the void left by the discarded hope of a future life. Here, again, he is confronted by the logical consequences of his mechanical necessity: what must come will; we need not make any effort or forego any gratification to bring it about; the "co-operation" which he speaks of is needless, or, rather, illusory; nor is it in our power to forestall the process of evolution. Apart from this, however, the prospect of a social goal indefinitely distant, and to be attained not by the individual man, but by humanity, influences only highly educated imaginations and refined natures, if it greatly influences even these. What does Bill Sykes, what does a director of the Glasgow Bank, what does William Tweed, what does Fiske, or St. Arnaud, or St. Arnaud's employer, care about the fortunes of humanity a million years after he as an individual being has ceased to exist? What impelling force, to keep that side of the matter in view also, will such visions have with the multitudes of common people, unread in the "Philosophic Positive," on whose conscientious performance of duty society depends, and whose goodness is the salt of the earth? The philosophers of the ultra-evolutionary school put out of sight, in the scientific sweep of their social theories, two commonplace facts—individuality and death. Death some of the philosophers of the last century thought might be abolished: those of the present appear to think that, if we will all be quiet and refrain from ill-omened words, it may be hushed up. They constantly quote Spinoza's saying, that true wisdom concerns itself not with death but with life. Spinoza had inherited the creed of religious secularism, which in his active intellect took the form of pantheism—without, however, losing its essential character as a belief generated at a stage before the wisdom or the folly, as the case may be, which concerns itself with death and the life beyond death, had come into the world. But does any one seriously believe that man can now be put back into that infantine state in which he once passed his days like the other animals, without spiritual aspiration, and, like them, Jay down at last to sleep without hope or fear? What a clearance of art, architecture, poetry, philosophy, and history does a return to contented and dreamless secularism imply! Yet the other part of the undertaking is even more arduous. That men should be made to feel themselves members one of another, granting the theistic hypothe-